Witty, or obnoxious, elitist and arrogant?

In ‘All the president’s cooks‘ on dnaindia.com, Venkatesan Vembu writes, “My all-time favourite story involving Indian politicians and food relates to Mani Shankar Aiyar’s dare, while campaigning for an election in 1991, to his opponent who was baiting him with anti-Brahmin rhetoric. Aiyar projected himself as a “meat-eating Brahmin” and even challenged his rival to a contest in the village square to see who could eat more chicken biryani. His campaign’s masala recipe went down well, and he won the election.” When I had read about this incident in 1991, I had wished that more people in public life should be as witty as Aiyar!

Today, I’m not so sure. IBNLive reports that, on January 17, 2014, the same Mani Shankar Aiyar, referring to Narendra Modi’s humble origins as the son of a tea stall owner, said at the AICC meet, “He can never be the Prime Minister of our nation, he can never be. However, if he wants, we could arrange a tea stall for him here.” He later claimed that he had been misquoted, but despite his longwinded explanation, it was clear he had displayed elitism and arrogance. The Congress has said that, “The party does not approve of the statement.”

Later that day, according to this report in The Times of India, Aiyar made a condescending statement against Delhi’s Hans Raj College. Earlier, in 2011, referring to a letter written by then Sports Minister Ajay Maken, Aiyar had, according to this report in The Times of India, said that he could not believe that a BA-Pass student from Hans Raj College could use words like ‘dichotomous’ in a letter. A few days later, Aiyar told a group of Hans Raj students that, “He (Maken) is a decent boy from a decent background with his only handicap being the college he went to.” He asked them to bring together BA-Pass students from Hans Raj and St Stephen’s and make them pronounce ‘dichotomous’. “I do not believe the student from Hans Raj will be able to do it,” he said. Aiyar also poked fun at Kirori Mal College by declaring that actor Amitabh Bachchan was the “sole achievement” of KMC.

All these remarks by Aiyar appear innocent when compared to a remark that, according to the report, ‘Don’t invite the likes of Mani. If you must, limit them to two pegs‘, Amar Singh claims Aiyar made in 2000: “We belong to the Oxford and Cambridge set… your leader can’t even articulate himself in English… Oh that bloody Mulayam — he looks just like me. It could be because my father visited UP at some point. Why don’t you check with Mulayam’s mother?”

After reading these reports, would you consider Aiyar witty, or would you consider him obnoxious, elitist and arrogant?

Unfortunately, he is not alone. Please read the second paragraph of the report ‘Kumar Vishwas jibe at Kerala nurses caught on YouTube’ about a comment made by AAP leader Kumar Viswas on nurses from Kerala. This comment was made by Kumar Vishwas some years back, before he entered politics and before the AAP was formed, and he did apologise on January 22, 2014, but the apology appeared half-hearted and certainly not unconditional.

ET reports that, at a public meeting on Sunday, Delhi’s Law Minister Somnath Bharti said, “I want to spit on the faces of BJP leader Arun Jaitley and senior lawyer Harish Salve to tell them to mend their ways… I warn you, the public is going to hound you and beat you.” AAP has reportedly warned Bharti to mind his language in future.

Many of us believe that the politics will become cleaner if educated people join politics. But, these 3 gentlemen are well-educated.

Does politics have a greater influence than education on a person’s character?

Or does education have little or no influence on a person’s character?